It was Friday. We had a day and a half left in the Park.
We had a good time seeing things in the Park. It was great
fun to watch the elk as they were in the rut. For the first
time we got to see a testosterone match between some of the
bulls. They do go at it when they get into this fighting mode.
We saw five six point bulls and two seven point bulls while
we were in the Park. You could make a lot of Elk Hair Caddis
out of one of those hides. There were also some very large
cow elk in the herds. We had stayed out a couple of evenings
after dark to just listen to the elk as they bugled.
I woke up early Friday morning and decided to go down to the
Roaring River. It was just down from the cabin and I would
have a good chance of none else being on the stream at that
I did get down to the stream and stated casting up the stream
and drifting a PTN down the current.
I had on a red PTN with a small beadhead. I tried to cast to
bring the fly down by any little pockets of still water.
I hoped there might be a fish laying in that quiet water
waiting for some food to come by. It did work a few times.
I hooked, and landed, a few small trout.
I continued to work upstream until I got to the place where
the water came over some rocks that formed a type of dam.
Most of the water came over the right side of this dam as
I was facing upstream and that was the side that I was on.
There was also a large boulder that was on the right side
about six feet downstream from the dam so the water swirled
around that. Behind the rock were a couple of small trees
that prevented me from trying to cast from the rock. The
branches were right on top of it, but did not extend over it.
I was sure that there would be some trout in this water.
I would just have to get a fly down to them. Or tempt them
to come up and get a fly. I also knew this was a time that
I was going to have to cast left-handed to get the fly to
drop behind the rock and sweep through the water there. No
way could I do it right-handed. I sure am glad that a few
years ago JC talked about learning to cast with your off
hand. I worked on it a lot and can cast halfway decently
to about 25 to 30 feet. I am getting better with it.
I made the first cast and brought a PTN just off the
boulder. The fly had dropped near the corner of the
dam and was sweeping along the face of the bolder. It
was about half way along when the line quit moving. I
set the hook and was into a nice fish that decided to
head downstream. I did get the fish turned and managed
to keep it away from any of the sticks in the stream.
It was a beautiful rainbow, about 16 inches long. She
went back into the water. I made another cast, but this
one was out about a foot farther than the first cast had
been. The fly had just gone under the surface when the
line went sideways. I was into another fish and this one
just did not want to come away from the dam. It was a
process of holding on and hoping that the fish tired out
a little. I had been using some 5X tippet, not the best
thing to try to horse a fish with. I continued to keep
as much pressure on the fish as I thought that I could.
It was one of those times that the endurance exhibited
on one end of the line or the other was going to determine
if the fish could be landed. I sure did want to see what
this fish was. It was still this thing of the fish swimming
back and forth along the face of the dam. But I was not
going to give in to this fish.
I had been concentrating on the fish so much that I had
not heard anyone come up behind me. It turned out to be
a Colorado Conservation Officer. He wondered what I had
hooked into and wanted to be sure that I had a licence
to be fishing. This was the first time in 20 plus years
of being out of state that I have ever been asked for a
licence. I told him that I had it, but I wanted to wait
until I had the fish landed before I showed it to him.
I finally got the fish to tire a little and I could get
it away from the dam. She then went deep into the hole
and tried to stay there. I put a little more pressure
on her to try to keep her moving so that I would be able
to land her. This tactic worked for me and I finally got
to the point where it was a tug-of-war. I would bring her
close and she would go back out. But each time, she did
not go as fast or as far. Finally I got her head up and
I was able to bring her to the shore.
I got my hand under her and moved her over to a patch of
grass . I could not see the fly and wanted to see if I
could take it out without harming her, or if I would need
to leave it in. That is when I found that the fly had
worked its way through the gill plates on one side and
the fish was hemorrhaging blood out of those. It had been
badly damaged in the fight.
The Conservation Officer said the he did not think she
would live if she was returned to the water. He felt she
had lost a lot of blood in the fight and with the lactic
acid build up in her system, survival chances were small.
I showed him my licence to show that I was legal. The
biggest point in my keeping this fish was that she did
not flip flop any while laying in the grass for that
short time period. The other fish had all been twisting
He did ask me how I managed to hook her. I showed him
how I had cast. I made another cast into the same general
area and was letting the fly drift back when another fish
took the fly. This fish never came out of the water, but
scooted all over the pool. I am sure there are airplane
pilots that wish they could twist and turn all the ways
that this fish did.
It was a nice brook trout. This fish was about a foot long.
It sure was a pretty fish. The Conservation Officer said
that I should keep this one also. We were so close to the
Park that he wanted folks to keep the brook trout. They
are trying to get the Greenback Cutthroats reintroduced
in all the streams and the brookies are sever competition
to the cutthroats.
I told him I was done then as I wanted to take care of
the fish. I did ask him if he wanted to make a cast
while he was there. He accepted the chance. He dropped
the fly near the other side of the dam where there were
some rocks. The fly had moved a little way when he
connected with a fish.
It took a few minutes and then he landed a brown trout
that was just short of a foot long. It was a pretty fish
that went back into the water. He thanked me for the chance.
That ended my fishing in the Park for this trip. Hope
you can get out on the water. ~